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Marriage Law

A marriage law is when two people are legally joined. The process involves the couple getting a marriage license, and then exchanging vows at a ceremony conducted by a licensed official. A couple who is married gains several rights, such as certain tax statuses that are favored, the ability to make decisions for their spouses if they become incapacitated, and property rights.

Traditional marriage

The right to marry was denied to heterosexual couples for hundreds of years. The Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) was passed by Congress in 1996. It prohibited the union of people of the same gender. In 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled DOMA was in violation of the 5th Amendment. Some states passed laws allowing gay couples to get married. Each state has its own rules and regulations for obtaining marriage licenses. Some types of Marriage law are not allowed as they are against public policy.

Same-Sex Marriage

In June 2015, the landscape of marriage was changed. The supreme court ruled that interfering with marriages on the basis of gender was unconstitutional. This ruling effectively overturned all prohibitions against same sex marriage and gave many people the opportunity to marry.

Common Law Marriage

Some states will accept unions that are not registered or certified by a marriage registry. This is known as a common law marriage. Common law spouses are recognized in states that recognize it. They have the same rights and privileges as other spouses. A couple in common law marriages will need to file for divorce or dissolution if their relationship ends.

The majority of states that recognize common law marriage have similar requirements for couples.

*Both individuals must reach the age of consent set by the state

  • Either one of the parties cannot be already married
  • Both must have a sound mind
  • The couple must live together

Marital Agreements

Some couples opt to enter into prenuptial arrangements before they get married. These agreements cover their property rights and obligations during the marriage. A prenuptial agreement may cover the following topics:

  • How finances will work during marriage
  • How property will be divided during a divorce
  • Who is responsible which debts?
  • How property will be left if one spouse dies
  • How to resolve future disputes

However, it is important to remember that prenuptial agreements cannot cover certain topics. Prenups cannot include rules about non-financial issues, such as chores and relationships with inlaws. They also do not allow for agreements about last names or child custody. Public policy may also be excluded from prenuptial agreements. If a court finds that one spouse was forced or coerced into signing a prenuptial agreement, it can annul it.

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